FIGURES for arson have plummeted following a Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service campaign aimed at highlighting the dangers of deliberate fires.
A full evaluation of the Flames Aren’t Games campaign is yet to take place but a drop of 50 per cent (87 reported incidents) has been seen in the number of deliberate fires in the open and disused buildings in August 2017, compared to figures for July 2017 when 174 incidents were reported. August 2017 statistics also show a 47 per cent drop compared to August 2016, when 165 incidents were reported.
Each year as temperatures rise typically so do the number of deliberate outdoor fires, increasing the operational demand on firefighters. This year has been no exception with figures showing that during early summer reports of these types of fires had tripled in Staffordshire.
Each year the Service coordinates an annual campaign to coincide with the school summer holidays, which often prompt a spike in the number of incidents.
The primary audience for the campaign are teenagers so the Service needed to find a way to reach out to them. An innovative idea was born to create a spoken word song and video, inspired by the likes of Stormzy and Skeptor. The rapper would tell the story of how their fire starting caused havoc and disaster, leading them to change their ways. The idea was sounded out with local teenagers who agreed that a video would catch their attention far more effectively than any other visual digital marketing material.
Working with a local charity, the Urban Arts Centre in Stoke-on-Trent, and an aspiring artist, the Service produced and recorded the song Flames Aren’t Games.
Director of Prevent and Protect Glynn Luznyj said: “Thankfully, we have seen a significant reduction in the number of deliberate fires in August. 50 per cent is a huge drop which means firefighters will have been able to concentrate more valuable time on prevention and education activities.
“Although the video is at the heart of the campaign, it is just one element of it. We have supported numerous fun activities held around the county throughout the summer holidays, which have been delivered with partner organisations. I’d like to recognise the fantastic local work that our teams have done with partners to engage with young people to help reduce anti-social behaviour and arson.
“We’ve also encouraged young people to engage with the campaign and us by using a Snapchat Flames Aren’t Games filter, and holding like and share competitions with prizes such as football and theme park tickets. This was along with regular eye-catching campaign posts intended to deter would be fire starters.
“We’ve had a fantastic response to the video which has been viewed over 132,000 times since its launch on Friday July 28. With the school holidays drawing to a close the final push of the campaign will encourage more hopeful competition entrants to like and share the video, which will hopefully prompt more views and most importantly more awareness that Flames Aren’t Games.”